Our beloved father, grandfather, brother and uncle joined the Lord in the kingdom of heaven on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Gary passed peacefully in his sleep at home, surrounded by family after a two-year battle with multiple myeloma.
Gary was born Dec. 1, 1949, to Lawrence and Zita Schmidt in Cottonwood — the 15th of 16 children. Gary was raised on Schmidt’s Dairy Farm in Greencreek. He attended primary school at St. Joseph’s in Cottonwood, followed by secondary school at St. Gertrude’s in Cottonwood. No matter what he may have told you, he did not walk 5 miles uphill, both ways; he got a ride to school every day. At home on the farm, he milked cows, farmed potatoes, learned to sing and said his prayers. The family had many acres for large roaming groups of siblings and cousins to get up to shenanigans. He claimed to have always been the biggest, the meanest and the toughest, and “nobody would mess with me,” he said.
He joined his brothers, Tim and Greg, at the University of Idaho in 1968 and transferred to Lewis-Clark Normal School in 1970. After his college adventure, Gary went to work at a sheep ranch, Schafer Lumber, and the Cellar Bar. At the age of 23, his parents dropped him off to work at Schmidt Dairy on Warner Avenue in Lewiston to milk cows for his older brother, Vic. Gary bought a small house in downtown Lewiston, but later sold it to buy the Schmidt Farm on Warner Avenue, where he stayed until his final day. Since the beginning of his time on the Lewiston farm, he raised a vegetable garden for food preservation. His spicy pickle recipe was loved far and wide. Every first-time visitor to the farm was encouraged to try a pickle as Gary looked on, hoping for a reaction to the spice.
Gary wed Colleen Mae Painter in 1982, and together they had four children. On Sundays, he took the kids to breakfast and church at St. James Catholic Church in Lewiston, where he sang in the choir. Every Saturday, he made sure the kids were up for morning cartoons (and chores). Gary did leave the farm sometimes for camping and hunting with friends and family. For many years, the family spent weekends in Dixie and always went sledding and Christmas tree hunting in Waha. The kids grew and flew the nest, but every one of them flew back home for some time. He spent many of his last years tending to the garden on Warner with his daughter, Sharol. When his grandchildren entered into his life, a new spark of joy was always in his eyes. Luckily, they all lived on the same block, so Gary was often able to walk them out into the fields to show off newborn lambs and chicks, or the new herd of calves. He loved to share the wonders of farming with kids and he spoiled them all with toys and sweets.
Gary was well known for his carpentry skills after years in the trade. He ran a framing business with his brother, Tim, for many years before moving onto roofing and concrete work. He built many homes, businesses, schools and even hospitals in the region during his lifetime. In a typical drive across town with Gary, he pointed out every building he worked on. He also worked with his friends on weekends to put up a deck, frame a barn, or build a smoke house. Gary was always generous with his time when it came to scratching a friend’s back — a trait that will sorely be missed. We will also greatly miss his passion for a good party and a well-roasted pig.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Lawrence and Zita; siblings Al, Vic and Bernie; and lifelong friend Jaime Seubert. He is survived by his children, Brett (Krystal) Schmidt, Rachael (Lyle) Schmidt, Sharol (Matt) Marcec and Dominic Schmidt; grandchildren Donivan, Simon, Sadie, Olivia and Sophia; siblings Susie, Collette, Pat, Larry, Mary Jo, Tony, Alice, Kathy, Tim, Greg, Gretta and Ted; lifelong friends and co-workers Jim Lietzke, Kevin Hoene and Paul Swearingen; plus many well-loved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
A rosary will be recited at 12:30 p.m. Saturday followed by a memorial service at 1 p.m. at All Saints Catholic Church, 3330 14th St., Lewiston. A luncheon will follow the service at Hereth Park in Lewiston.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Idaho Food Bank, as feeding others was one of Gary’s favorite things in life.